The Lives of Men Profile - Rondel Holder

Rondel Holder is the creator of one of the dopest podcasts out, Soul Society 101. Needless to say, we connected on many levels, entrepreneurship, travel and our respective paths toward manhood. We are honored to profile a brother who embodies the phrase "there is more to him than meets the eye." Read on!

When was the moment you realized you wanted to follow your path? And, what were some of the obstacles you encountered?

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I knew that I wanted to follow my own path very early on in life. Both personally and professionally, I never really fit into the mold of what was expected of me. And the few times when I was younger that I attempted to be what I felt like people wanted of me, it was clear that I fell short. On the other hand, when I did what I was actually interested in, I excelled and also often times found myself in a leadership role vs. following. So it was very clear that being myself and doing what felt right in my heart was the only way I was going to find happiness, success and a sense of fulfillment. I really didn’t have much of a choice but to be myself and follow my own path.

The biggest obstacle is really people. If you let people get into your head about what they think you should and shouldn’t be doing, or who you should or shouldn’t be as a person, you are giving them a chance to place their fears and limitations on you. But the truth is, when you are living in your purpose, you just feel RIGHT and you know it. Unfortunately, sometimes it means you have to go against the thoughts and ideas of some of the closest people to you – best friends, family, significant others. You have to make your voice within, which I believe is God, louder than the voices of people around you. You have to remember that people are flawed, and they may not be trying to hold you back or hurt you on your path, but sometimes they can’t even help it. Once you’re right with yourself and it shows, it doesn’t really matter what anyone has to say. It’s the getting there that’s the hard part.

What are some of the things you are struggling with right now?

As an entrepreneur, one of the hardest things to find is a team of people who are not only on the same page in terms of your vision, but also people who work with the same moral code as you. In 2017 the idea of being an entrepreneur is glorified so everyone wants to be one and the value of supporting someone else’s vision (even if it’s very much in line with your own) is diminished. So instead, whereas maybe a decade back you may have found a group of people to support what you’re doing and want to be a part of it, now you just have people stealing your blueprint so that they can call themselves entrepreneurs as well. Being able to accept that concept is hard because any business I’ve ever started has always been because I’ve wanted to fill a void in the marketplace. If I saw someone else doing what I had in mind and doing it well, I’d always offer to join or support them vs. be a Mr. Me Too. But everything goes in cycles, and I think the value in supporting someone else’s vision and living out your dreams as a part of a team will again rise to the top, as people realize that entrepreneurship isn’t for everybody nor is it as glamorous as it seems.

What is your recipe for a healthy relationship? Romantic or otherwise. 

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I think before you get into any kind of relationship, romantic or otherwise, you should be clear on who you are – have your own ideas, thoughts, standards; you should be happy – because you should never look to someone else for your own happiness, they should just be icing on your already bomb ass cake, and you should also know the value what you bring to the table so that you know your worth and never get taken advantage of. Once you have that, healthy relationships are about support, balance, and communication.

Support because you obviously enter a relationship for a mutual benefit of having someone there to share memories, thoughts, and ideas with; someone to potentially make you better and be there when you need them and vice versa. Otherwise, if you rather do it all on your own, you might as well be.

Balance is important because you should never let any type of relationship consume you – whether it’s work, family, friends or romantic. You should always have time to be yourself and also be in a relationship with other parts of your life. No one or nothing should ever have all of you. It’s unhealthy.

And probably most important is communication because we’re humans and some days we have the energy for things and other days we don’t. You need to be able to say, “this is what I’m dealing with right now so I can’t deliver on being (fill in the blank – chef, Superman/woman, therapist, extra hard worker, babysitter, etc).”  I think a vast majority of issues in relationships are due to a lack of communication, on both sides. You also have to be willing to accept and understand someone telling you their side as well.

How do you define masculinity?

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That’s a really difficult question honestly. My thoughts on masculinity have evolved a lot over the years. Right now I think I think masculinity is defined by a certain type of energy whereas when I was younger I thought it was more about actions and interests. I think machismo is easily mislabeled as masculinity.

It’s hard to put into words because I would say the desire to be brave, strong and protect is masculine but I know so many very feminine women who are leaders and who do all the same things effortlessly. It’s also unfair to label that as masculinity because it almost gives the sense that in order to be men (or masculine) you can’t be vulnerable, caring or fragile at times which is important.

I guess I’d say that masculinity is a certain type of energy that gives off an instinctual desire to lead, protect and provide that is complementary to feminine energy that gives off an instinctual desire to nurture, care and be sensitive. And if I say that, then I think maybe the healthiest way to be for any human is a combination of all of all of these types of traits. But maybe masculinity and femininity is whichever comes most organically and instinctually to you. It’s really hard to say. But that’s my best answer right now.

What would you say are the successes and shortcomings of the media's portrayal of men of color. 

I think there are VERY rare cases where men of color are portrayed well in media. And 90% of those cases where we are represented well are when people of color own the narrative. In general, humans like to focus on the negative which is always a weird concept for me, but it seems as it relates to Black men, that’s ALL you see in general market media aka White media. When I know that’s not all Black men are doing because I am a very positive person and I know so many positive Black men and men of color around me.

We are dynamic, present fathers in our children’s’ lives, business leaders, creatives, executives, lovers, great husbands and boyfriends, sons, students. We are also just normal and multifaceted just like every other group of people and I wish we could see more of all of our sides. It’s important because so many White people don’t interact with Black people on a regular basis and so whether they’d like to believe it or not, their thoughts on us become what they see on the news, these ratchet TV shows, villainous characters in books and movies and if there’s no balance then that is their overall thought of us. It’s gotten so bad that I know Black men who look at our own people the same way because they drink the poison of how media portrays us.

That’s why in those rare cases where we are represented well, in shows like Insecure, Atlanta and Dear White People, in movies like The Best Man, Love and Basketball, Love Jones most recently Girls Trip, in online platforms like The Lives Of Men and my own Soul Society 101, the support and outpouring of love shocks people. But it’s really because it reflects the truth of us that somehow gets missed in mainstream media. It’s refreshing.

What is a current topic or news story that most resonates with you at this moment?

Always – every senseless killing of a Black man in America. I can’t watch the videos, but the evidence is clear. They love our culture but they don’t love us. 

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